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Editorial : Jobs for the boys

Feb 24 (Island) We publish today an article by Mr. Tissa Devendra, who began his public service career as a Divisional Land Officer and in the fullness of time served as Govt Agent, Additional Secretary to a Ministry and Chairman of the Public Service Commission where he comments on a virtually institutionalized development of our times: the award of letters of appointment to positions in the public service by no less than the President of the Republic as well as various cabinet more..

Editorial : The ignominy of inadequacy

Feb 24 (CT) The govt’s Action Plan is not adequate. That is the verdict spelt out by the draft resolution against Sri Lanka, sponsored by the United States and supported by the European Union and others, possibly ‘big brother’ India too. The final resolution will be presented at the UNHRC sessions, scheduled to commence in Geneva, in less than 24 hours. A verdict of inadequacy is a terrible indictment on the govt and its agencies charged with the task of presenting National Action Plan to more..

'Govt. opened path for another resolution at UNHRC'

Feb 24 (SL) JVP MP Vijitha Herath says the govt, while failing to honor its assurances and agreements with members of the international community, has continuously failed in its diplomatic dealings. “By violating human rights and attacking democratic principles, the govt created the avenue for another resolution,” he said. Herath observed that the govt’s actions would result in the international community continuing to focus more..

Is handcuffing police the new ‘Rule of Law’?

Feb 24 (NS) Much space in newspapers was taken up by the recent impeachment issue and there were hair-splitting arguments about the rule of law and order and the dispensation of justice. Yet, an incident of much ‘lesser’ significance this week highlights just where the rot has set in. Minister Sumedha Jayasena has admitted that she telephoned IGP N. K. Ilangakoon and requested the release of three suspects arrested for alleged illegal sand mining. Minister’s explanation more..

Doctored films shootings and petty brawls reigned

Feb 24 (NS) The week began with the releasing of another set of photographs by the usual and known petitioner; Britain’s Channel-4 TV against Sri Lanka, while the Presidential Secretariat and the Ministry of External Affairs were getting ready with the necessary documents to defend the country at the UNHRC sessions. Opposition parties did not show much interest over the issue, as they were planning for the coming elections and a no-faith motion over a minister. more..

Boston Lanka: February 24, 2013

Meeting the UNHRC Challenge

Feb 24 (Island) The UNHRC season is upon us. This was heralded by the release of photos of Prabhakaran’s younger son Balachandran who is alleged to have been shot dead by the army. The photos certainly look authentic, since the boy is shown wearing what appears to be the same pair of shorts that he was shown wearing when he was shot, but what strikes a discordant note is the pristine condition of the bunker that he is shown sitting in with its clean new green sand bags. more..

German aviation expertise for Mattala airport

Feb 24 (ST) SriLankan Airlines is currently in discussion with a German aviation engineering organisation, Lufthansa Technik to jointly establish maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) services at Hambantota’s Mattala airport. Lufthansa Technik AG is one of the world’s leading providers of aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) services. This organisation is the Lufthansa German Airlines’ maintenance arm and is subsidiary of the Lufthansa Group. more..

Crisis riddled MR’s govt to face Geneva imbroglio

Feb 24 (SL) The level of preparedness of the Mahinda Rajapaksa govt to face the international community this week at the 22nd session of the UNHRC in Geneva was evident by the last minute decision to include Presidential human rights envoy, Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe to head the govt delegation to Geneva. SL’s Permanent Representative to Geneva, Ravinatha Aryasinha was earlier tipped to head the govt delegation more..

Re-living the horror of the Premadasa and CBK eras

Feb 24 (Island) At first sight, the book misleads the potential reader - with a title like ‘Lakshman’ and a subtitle ‘He did his duty to his nation’ and a photo of Lakshman Hulugalle on the cover, this looks like a biography lionising the central character of the book. In fact at the launch of his book at the Kingsbury Hotel, some thought it was the start of Lakshman’s pitch to get into parliament. When J.R.P.Suriyapperuma introduced the book, that was the impression he too more..

Pakistani investor shuts apparel factories, over 1,500 lose jobs

Feb 24 (ST) Pakistani investor, the ZM Group which ran three apparel factories in Sri Lanka have closed down the factories and left the island, employees said. The Board of Investment-approved factories; ZM Vertiko PVT Ltd at Padukka, ZM Kasuals at Kottawa and ZM Vision at Kiriella, were closed with over,1,500 workers losing their jobs. The management had informed the workers that the company has lost all apparel orders recently and they are not in a position to continue the more..

Demand for prime office space growing in and around Colombo

Feb 24 (Island) There has been growth in demand for prime office space in and around Colombo and suburbs over the recent past with two properties owned by Equity One, a Carson Cumberbatch Company, achieving full occupancy during the current financial year. A professional valuation done last year had placed total value of the Equity One group’s property portfolio within Colombo city and its suburbs at Rs.2.4 billion more..

International schools shaken up by President’s remarks

Feb 24 (NS) Shaken up by President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s remark to regulate international schools, 23 international schools in the country are now on a feverish mission to rectify the loopholes of the sector, ahead of possible regulatory standards. In a bid to avert any such move, the 23 international schools have resurrected an association called “The International Schools of Sri Lanka” which was defunct for more than 16 years. The organization was informally referred to as the more..

GMOF discuss burning health issues with Minister Sirisena

Feb 24 (Island) A senior-level delegation of the Govt Medical Officers’ Forum (GMOF) which met with Health Minister Maithripala Sirisena last week expressed concern over the continued functioning of the controversial Malabe Private Medical College (PMC) despite issues relating to standards which the medical profession demanded. The 15-member delegation warned of drastic action if the proposed amendments to the Sri Lanka Medical Council were pushed through, saying more..

Odel ‘Unclosets’ Lesbian Eroticism!

Feb 24 (NS) ODEL, one of Colombo’s prominent department stores, has broken new ground in advertising with a print creative for jeans depicting two females in an unabashed expression of lesbian eroticism. The ad, which comes with the payoff line ‘The perfect pair’, is a clear departure from the ‘traditional’ culture of flaunting sexuality that has been part and parcel of the advertising industry the world over. more..

Wimal says will not boycott cabinet

Feb 24 (SL) Minister Wimal Weerawansa said that he has no intention of boycotting Parliament over his concerns about the Secretary to the Ministry of Finance Dr. P.B. Jayasundera. He said that he has his own opinions about some govt officials but he will not vent his anger on the entire Cabinet or the President. Several websites had reported last Friday that Weerawansa would bocott Cabinet meetings as a mark of protest over the failure by President Rajapaksa to remove the Finance Secretary. more..

UN urged to probe Matale grave

Feb 24 (SL) The UN has been called to assist in the investigations into the mass grave unearthed in Matale last year. In a written statement submitted to the UNHRC, ahead of the 22nd session which begins tomorrow, the Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC), a nongovernmental organization, has said that the UN Working Group on Enforced Disappearances should, through their experts, study the situation and the conduct of inquiries relating to the remains of the 200 or more..

Bus fare hike imminent

Feb 24 (CT) Private bus owners are to hold a crisis meeting with the Minister of Private Transport on Tuesday, to demand a bus fare hike in the wake of announcement of a diesel price increase of Rs 6. They said, as the promised diesel subsidy, demanded by the bus owners to cushion the effects of the previous fuel price hike, was not forthcoming, a bus fare hike is the only option in light of the latest fuel price hike. more..

BOI needs new strategy

Feb 24 (ST) When the UNP swept to power in July 1977, ousting the United Front govt led by Sirima Bandaranaike, its leader Junius Jayewardene wanted a quick-fire solution to link the country to the global economy. While South Asia was struggling under the shadow of economies dominated by local industry and a trickle of imports, the rest of the world had opened out trade and commerce to unlimited inflows. Upto that time, Sri Lanka had restricted imports and everyone more..

Keheliya says two suspects arrested

Feb 24 (SL) Minister Keheliya Rambukwella said that two people have been arrested in connection with the shooting incident of The Sunday Leader journalist Faraz Shauketaly. He said that the Criminal Investigation Department had made a breakthrough in the investigations regarding the shooting incident. Surprisingly Rambukwella and the Police spokesman SSP Jayakody made contradictory statements with regard to the status of the investigation. more..

Fuel price increase was inevitable, will halve Rs. 89b losses: Yapa

Feb 24 (Island) The fuel price increase effected midnight Friday was inevitable due to the soaring CPC debt of Rs. 89 billion which was also affected by rising global crude oil prices which shot up from US$ 95 per barrel to US$ 118 between June 2012 and February 2013, Minister Anura Priyadharshana Yapa said. "With the price increase, we are confident that we could reduce the CPC debt by Rs. 50 billion by end 2013," more..

Catholic Church approved Eucharistic Miracles of the World Exhibition in Sri Lanka

Feb 24 (Island) An inscription in marble from the 17th century described an Eucharistic Miracle which occurred at Lanciano, a town in Italy in the year 750, at the Church of St Francis. A Monastic Priest doubted whether the body of our Lord was truly present in the consecrated host. He celebrated Mass and when he said the words of consecration, he saw the host turn into flesh and the wine into blood. Everything was visible to those in attendance. The flesh is still intact and the blood is more..

Naadi Mafia manipulates vegetable prices

Feb 24 (NS) With vegetable prices averaging an all-time high, the Trade Ministry has launched an investigation as they suspect a hidden hand manipulating vegetable prices in the market, informed sources told The Nation. The surprising is artificially created by an undercover group called ‘Naadi Mafia’ operating from the Economic Centre in Dambulla- the focal point of the country’s vegetable supply, a senior official of the trade ministry said. The group, he said, directly purchases more..

Queen of the damned

Feb 24 (ST) My Dear Sumedha, I thought I must write to you after hearing that you are one of the most powerful people in the country. Although you are not very famous you are still a minister-in charge of Parliamentary Affairs- but I think your powers go far beyond that. In fact, you may be the most powerful person in the Cabinet, next to Mahinda maama. Why, who else would have the authority to call up the IGP and ask him to more..

Will Citibank close down operations in Sri Lanka?

Feb 24 (NS) Amidst retrenchment process and closing down local accounts, Citibank Sri Lanka, denied claims that the bank is planning to close operations in Sri Lanka. Ravin Basnayake, Citi Bank’s Country Officer, stated that the group is focused on exploiting emerging opportunities in Sri Lanka. “When you are allocated capital, you are expected to deliver the right combination of profitability and hence the bank would focus on targeting the better profit making clientele,” more..

GMOA lambasts two journalists as "paid radicals carrying out political agendas"

Feb 24 (Island) In its January 2013 Newsletter, the Govt Medical Officers Association (GMOA) has lashed out at two mainstream newspaper journalists branding them as "paid radicals carrying out political agendas". Under the heading "Paid Radicals undertake another political contract", the Newsletter has reproduced two news stories in the English and Sinhala media, and accused the journalists of "having issued (sic) several press releases to carry out political agendas. more..

Indian presence, Devananda suspends 5,000-boat protest

Feb 24 (ST) Minister Douglas Devananda yesterday dramatically backed out from his plans for a 5,000-boat protest in the Palk Strait against poaching by Indian fishermen in the face of a visit to the north by Indian High Commissioner Ashok Kantha and heightened Indian coastguard presence along the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) separating India and Sri Lanka. Instead, he said he would hold talks with Indian more..

Karat wants India to demand credible probe into Sri Lanka rights violations

Feb 24 (Hindu) India should demand an independent, high-level, credible inquiry into the atrocities and human rights violations that took place in the last phase of the war in Sri Lanka, CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat said on Saturday. Asked what should be India’s stand on the resolution that was likely to come upon in the UNHRC against Sri Lanka, he said though it was not clear about the nature of the resolution, India should ask for a high-level, independent, credible inquiry. more..

Sri Lanka refinery upgrade to cost US$1.5bn

Feb 24 (LBO) An upgrade to Sri Lanka's 50,000 barrels refinery a day involving doubling of is capacity and boosting light distillate yields could cost up to 1.5 billion US dollars. Petroleum minister Anura Yapa told reporters that feasibility and front-end-engineering-design (FEED) has already been completed for the project. Sri Lanka's only refinery owned by state-run CPC was built in the 1960s and yields a low proportion of light distillates and higher proportions of furnace oil compared to more..

Govt. faces heavy fire from Geneva

Feb 24 (ST) Besides polls conducted by the Department of Elections, perhaps the only other which assume an official character are elections to the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL), the premier body representing the country’s lawyers. Formed in 1974 with the incorporation of the Bar Council of Ceylon and the Incorporated Law Society of Ceylon, it is meant to be the spokes-body of the Un-official Bar with the Solicitor General from more..

Colombo now plays Kashmir card to challenge New Delhi

Feb 24 (NIP) With the Manmohan Singh govt under increasing pressure from Tamil Nadu MPs to vote for the US-sponsored resolution against Sri Lanka in the March session of the UNHRC, Sri Lankans have brought up India’s questionable human rights record in Kashmir, to rein in New Delhi. Lankan Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa reminded India that UK’s Channel 4 TV, which was showing videos of atrocities allegedly committed by the Sri Lankan army, to tarnish Lanka’s image ahead of more..

Sri Lankan delegation to meet Navaneetham Pillay

Feb 24 (SO) President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Special envoy on Human Rights Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe and the Sri Lankan delegation will meet the UN’s High Commissioner Navaneetham Pillay on the sidelines of the UNHRC’s 22nd regular sessions scheduled to begin next week. Authoritative sources said Ms Pillay had made a request to meet the Sri Lankan delegation and the team will update her on the overall progress and the most recent developments on the more..

Talk at the Cafe Spectator

Feb 24 (ST) There are many definitions of a diplomat. One speaks about them being a breed who lie abroad for their country. Others say they are men or women who should be competent to tell someone so politely and invitingly to go to hell, so much so that they will look forward to the trip. Promoting their business interests while serving the country abroad however, is not one of their assigned tasks. That is not to say they do not do so. more..

Gota denies DIG was moved out due to political pressure

Feb 24 (Island) Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa dismissed allegations that Moneragala DIG M.R. Latiff had been moved out of the district owing to political pressure. The Defence Secretary insisted that there was no basis for these allegations. "When IG Police, N.K. Ilangakoon wanted to place DIG Latiff in charge of training early last year in accordance with his overall plan to revamp the department, I felt Latiff more..

LTTE rump drumming-up as UNHRC meeting approaches

Feb 24 (Island) Jaffna Security Forces Commander Maj. Gen. Mahinda Hathurusinghe yesterday alleged that the LTTE rump, some members of the international community and as well as a section of the media had stepped up their campaign in the run-up to the forthcoming UNHRC sessions in Geneva. Hathurusinghe said that the presence of troops in the Jaffna peninsula, particularly the deployment in the more..

Photo of dead boy ups pressure on Sri Lanka over war crimes

Feb 24 (AP) The photo shows a boy sitting shirtless by a row of sandbags as he glumly eats a snack. The next photo shows him lying face up in the dirt, a series of bullet holes in his chest. The makers of a documentary on Sri Lanka say the boy was the 12-year-old son of Sri Lankan insurgent leader Velupillai Prabhakaran, and that the photos prove he was captured and then executed by the Sri Lankan military. Sri Lanka denies the charge. more..

DPF faults composition of delimitation commission

Feb 24 (SL) The national delimitation commission which has been appointed by the provincial minister does not include a single member from the North East, Dr Kumara Gurubaran, Western Provincial Councillor and deputy leader of the DPF said. He said that when talking about reconciliation and rights about anything affecting the north eastern people and demarcation of the wards, they must have their representatives. more..

Sri Lankan govt. under fire from ICG in 37-page report

Feb 24 (Island) The International Crisis Group (ICG) last week urged the Commonwealth Secretary General to refer Sri Lanka to the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) so that action could be initiated against the country. The next CMAG meeting is scheduled to be held in London in April 2013. The Brussels-based NGO released a 37 page report on Sri Lanka passing severe strictures on the government. more..

TNA to head to Geneva

Feb 24 (CT) A four-member TNA parliamentary delegation will leave for UNHRC sessions in Geneva, to brief the representatives of the member countries, who will be dealing with the US resolution on Sri Lanka. TNA MP, Suresh K. Premachandran said the Alliance took the decision to be present in Geneva and to meet the UNHRC representatives on the sidelines of the UNHRC sessions at the parliamentary group meeting more..

Indians to work in Lankan fields

Feb 24 (ST) Indian nationals are to be granted work visas to harvest paddy in the North and East, minister Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena said. “The Govt is helpless as our people are leaving the country to work as labourers in countries in West Asia, Singapore, South Korea and Italy,” he said. He conceded that Indian nationals were working in paddy fields in the North and East having come to the country on tourist visas. more..